It is 2015, but some traders are treating exchanging traded funds tracking PIIGS nations as if it is 2010 as renewed fears about Greece potentially leaving the Eurozone are prompting increased bets against other Europe single-country ETFs.
In 2010, the iShares MSCI Italy Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EWI) and the iShares MSCI Spain Capped ETF (NYSEArca: EWP) fell 14.2% and 18.9% as the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis worsened with Greece seen as one of the main culprits. Fast-forward to 2015 and fears are once again rising regarding a “Grexit.”
Just two years after Greece brought the Eurozone to the brink of a full-fledged crisis and stoked speculation that the common currency scheme was close to meeting its demise, Greece’s fractured political system has onlookers mulling the possibility of a Eurozone without the country. Greeks head to the polls on Jan. 25 with Prime Minister Antonis Samara warning that if the opposition Syriza party emerges victorious, a Greek default and Eurozone departure would be the end result. [Greece ETF Pricing in EMU Departure]
The Global X FTSE Greece 20 ETF (NYSEArca: GREK) entered Monday with a 2015 loss of 6%, but traders are also turning bearish on EWI and EWP.
“The price of bearish options versus bullish ones on EWP hit a 20-month high last week, while the cost of the contracts on EWI jumped 27 percent since early December,” reports Inyoung Hwang for Bloomberg.
EWI and EWP are lower by 5.4% and 6.6%, respectively, to start 2015. EWI, the lone Italy ETF, currently trades just under $13, but open interest in the ETF’s January $13 strike puts is nearly triple that of the open interest in calls with the same strike, according to OptionMonster data.